Ahead of his visit to France and his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron Thursday, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin called on France and other European states to oppose an International Criminal Court (ICC) decision to initiate a probe into alleged Israeli war crimes against the Palestinians in an op-ed column published in the French daily Le Figaro.
"The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for possible war crimes is a dreadful misapplication of international law," Rivlin wrote. "A court established to deal with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community is being used as a political weapon. It is a morally and legally bankrupt decision."
The president stressed the importance of international law to the State of Israel and the misuse of it by the ICC, emphasizing that Israel will stand by IDF soldiers who protected its people when asked to do so.
"We are deeply committed to the theory and the practice of ensuring that war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity are never allowed to go unpunished because domestic legal systems are unwilling or unable to prosecute individuals responsible for them.
"The soldiers and civilians that [the] ICC is threatening to investigate are our children and grandchildren, our neighbors and friends. We will do everything we can to protect them, just as they protected us when asked to do so. At the same time, we will hold ourselves to the highest standards of international law, even when that requires the most painful decisions.
"International law cannot be a suicide pact. It must provide genuine, effective and humane responses to real threats. This is a dilemma that other democratic states, including France, will face in fighting terrorism around the world. The position of the ICC on asymmetric conflicts could limit the scope of liberal democracies to defend themselves."
At the end of the article, the president considers the damage that the ICC’s decision is likely to have on the chances of resuming negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I call on friends of Israel and the Palestinians, in France and beyond, to state clearly, once and for all, that the road to peace runs directly between Jerusalem and Ramallah. Detours via the ICC in the Hague and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva are counterproductive to the cause of peace and undermine the chances of an agreement between us," he wrote.